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Song of Solomon
Luke 24 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Now upon the first
of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain
- THE RESURRECTION. All the four evangelists give an account of the Resurrection. None of the four, however, attempt to give a
of it simply from a human point of sight. Each Gospel probably reproduces the special points dwelt on in certain great centres of Christian teaching, in what we should now term different schools of thought. (Attempts have been made by theological scholars to
these as Jewish, Gentile, Greek, Roman; but only with indifferent success). The teaching which St. Matthew's Gospel represents, evidently in the Resurrection preaching dwelt with peculiar insistence on the great Galilaean appearance of the Risen. St. Luke confines himself exclusively to the appearance, in Judaea. St. John chooses for his Resurrection instruction scenes which had for their theatre both Galilee and Judaea. St. John, as his central or most detailed piece of teaching, dwells on a fishing scene on Gennesaret, the actors being the well-known inner circle of the apostles. While St. Luke chooses for his detailed Resurrection narrative a high-road in a Jerusalem suburb; and for actors, two devoted, but historically unknown, disciples. Then there is no question of
in this portion of the great history. It is not easy to frame a perfectly satisfactory harmony of all the events related by the four, after the Lord had risen; for, in fact, we possess no detailed account or history of what took place in that eventful period in presence of the disciples. We simply have memoranda of eye-witnesses of certain
connected with the Resurrection selected by the great first teachers as specially adapted to their own preaching and instruction. The events of the first Easter Day have Been tabulated by Professor Westcott, in what he terms a provisional arrangement, as follows: -
Very early on Sunday
The Resurrection, followed by the earthquake, the descent of the angel, the opening of the tomb (
). 5 a.m....
Mary Magdalene, Mary the [mother] of James and Salome, probably with others, start for the sepulchre in the twilight. Mary Magdalene goes before the others, and returns at once to Peter and John (
, etc.), 5:30 a.m....
Her companions reach the sepulchre when the sun had risen (
). A vision of an angel. Message to the disciples (
, etc.). 6 a.m....
Another party, among whom is Joanna, come a little later, but still in the early morning (
, etc.; comp.
, note). A vision of "two young men." Words of comfort and instruction (
, etc.). 6:30 a.m....
The visit of Peter and John (
). A vision of two angels to Mary Magdalene (
John 20:11 13
). About the same time the company of women carry their tidings to the apostles (
, etc.). 7 a.m....
The Lord reveals himself to Mary Magdalene (
). Not long after he reveals him self, as it appears, to the company of women who are returning to the sepulchre. Charge to the brethren to go to Galilee (
, etc.). 4-6 p.m....
The appearance to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus (
After 4 p.m...
An appearance to St. Peter (ch. 24:34; comp.
1 Corinthians 15:5
). 8 p.m....
The appearance to the eleven and others (
In the above table one point must be specially noticed:
or separate groups of women are mentioned as going to the sepulchre with the same pious object of assisting in the final embalming of the sacred body. If this be assumed to be the fact, there will be nothing improbable in the supposition that both these groups of women, all doubtless intimate friends belonging to the little company of the Master, but living probably some distance apart in Jerusalem, came together some time on the sabbath day, and then arranged to meet early on the first day at the sepulchre. Probably the spices purchased in some haste
just before the sabbath commenced
were judged inadequate.
we read of a company of women, most probably including all,
both groups, of holy women, who, after beholding the sepulchre, "returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and
rested the sabbath day."
we read, "
the sabbath was past
, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought [not
bought] sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him." This company (alluded to in
at the sepulchre, and sees the vision of one angel (
). The other company (alluded to in
) arrives not long after at the sepulchre, and sees the vision of two angels (
). In considering the accounts of the Resurrection, the following memoranda will be found suggestive: -
The holy women
are the principal actors in all the four accounts of the circumstances connected with the tomb. But their assertions were not believed by the disciples until their statements were confirmed by the Lord's personal appearance.
When St. Paul (
1 Corinthians 15:5-8
) sums up the great appearances of our Lord, the basis of our faith, he makes no reference to his appearance to Mary Magdalene (
) or to the women (two Maries mentioned
Matthew 28:9, 10
No evangelist describes the Resurrection-no earthly being having been present. St. Matthew is the evangelist who, in his narrative, goes furthest back. He mentions the shock of the earthquake, the awful presence of the angel, the benumbing terror which seized the guards who were watching. Most probably these signs accompanied the Resurrection.
The risen Lord appeared only to his own.
That no future doubt should be thrown on the
of the appearances of the Risen, he showed himself not only to solitary individuals, but to companies,
to two, to the eleven (repeatedly), and to above five hundred brethren at once. And these manifestations took place
at different hours of the day;
in different localities - in Judaea, in Galilee, in rooms of houses, in the open air.
esurrection. At the sepulchre.
Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them
. In the foregoing general note on the Resurrection, the probability has been discussed of the holy women having been divided into two companies who separately came to the sepulchre. St. Luke's notice here refers to the party who arrived the second at the tomb.
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
The tomb in which the body of the "King's Son" was laid was in a garden close by the scene of the Crucifixion. It had been recently hewn out of a rock, the low ridge opposite the slight ascent of Calvary. "In front of a tomb belonging to a rich family there was generally a vestibule open to the air, then a low entrance sometimes, as in this case, on the side of a rock, leading into a square chamber of moderate dimensions, on one side of which was a place for the body, either cut some seven feet into the rock, or lengthways, three feet deep, with a low arch over it... The tomb had been lately made, and the door which closed the entrance, the only aperture into the tomb, was a large stone" ('Speaker's Commentary,' on
). Recent investigations in Jerusalem serve to confirm the accuracy of the original traditional sites. (comp. Williams, 'Holy City,' 2:240; Professor Willis, 'Treatise on the Holy Sepulchre,' etc.). We find the following passage in the Bordeaux Pilgrim (A.D. 333): "On the left side (of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre) is the hillock Golgotha, where the Lord was crucified. Thence about a stone-throw distance is the crypt where his body was deposited." St. Cyril of Jerusalem makes several references to the spot. In the days of Eusebius (first half of the fourth century) there was no doubt as to the site.
And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining
To one company of women one angel appeared: to another, two. Mary Magdalene, a little later, saw two angels in white sitting, as it were keeping watch and ward over the sepulchre for a short time after the sacred form had left it. The words which these beings from another sphere spoke to the mourning women were slightly different, but the teaching was the same in each case: "He is not here, but is risen. Do you not remember what he told you when he was yet with you?" Van Oosterzee and Farrar repeat a beautiful passage from Lessing on this: "Cold discrepancy-mongers, do you not, then, see that the evangelists do not count the angels?... There were not only two angels - there were millions of them. They appeared not always one and the same, not always the same two; sometimes this one appeared, sometimes that; sometimes on this place,- sometimes on that; sometimes alone, sometimes in company; sometimes they said this, sometimes they said that."
And as they were afraid, and bowed down
faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Verses 6, 7.
He is not here, but is risen
. These words were repeated in each of the angelic communications at the sepulchre.
Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again
. The angels here call to the women's memory the Master's former promises of the Resurrection. In SS. Matthew and Mark the angel bids them tell the disciples not to forget the appointed place of meeting in Galilee, referring to the Lord's words on the way from the "Last Supper" to Gethsemane (
; Mark 45:28).
Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
And they remembered his words,
And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
And told all these things unto
the eleven, and to all the rest.
The account of the scenes at the sepulchre in St. Luke are the least vivid and detailed of the four evangelists. It must be remembered that Matthew, Mark (the amanuensis of Peter), and John relate their own memories here, as well as what they had heard from the holy women. Peter and John, we know, were present themselves at the sepulchre. St. Luke received his less detailed and more summarized account of that early morning, years after, most probably from the lips of one of the holy women who had formed part of one of the "two companies" who carried spices for the embalming.
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary
of James, and other
women that were
with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
And their words seemed to
as idle tales, and they believed them not.
The utter incredulity of the friends of Jesus when these reports of his resurrection were brought to them is remarkable when contrasted with the evident dread of the Sanhedrin that
something of grave moment
would happen after three days had elapsed. The disciples were evidently amazed at their Master's rising from the dead. The chief priests and Jewish leaders would apparently have been surprised if something startling had not happened (see
, etc., where an account is given of the measures these able but unprincipled men took, in their short-sighted wisdom, to counteract any fulfilment of the Crucified One's word - a fulfilment
evidently looked forward to as to no improbable contingency). The utter surprise of the disciples at the Resurrection, which in their Gospels they truthfully acknowledge, is no small side-proof of the genuineness of these records of the event.
Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.
Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass
. This verse is omitted in some of the ancient authorities. It is, however, no doubt genuine, and is, in tact, a condensed report (omitting all mention of John) of the narrative given at length in St. John's Gospel (
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem
meeting with the risen Jesus on the way to Emmaus.
And, behold, two of them
. This long piece, which relates in a singularly vivid and picturesque manner one of the earliest appearances of the Risen, is peculiar to St. Luke. St. Mark (
Mark 16:12, 13
) mentions it, but as it were only in passing. This Gospel, written probably after the Gospels of SS. Matthew and Mark, holds a middle place between the earliest apostolic memoirs represented by the first two Gospels and the last memoir, that of St. John, which was probably put out in its present form by the apostle "whom Jesus loved" some time in the last fifteen years of the first century. Writers of varied schools unite in expressions of admiration for this singularly beautiful "memory of the Lord." Godet styles it one of the most admirable pieces in St. Luke's Gospel. Renan, belonging to another, perhaps the most cheerless of all schools of religious thought, writes thus: "
des disciples d'Emmaus est un des recits les plus fins, les plus nuances qu'il y ait duns aucune langue" ('Les Evangiles,' p. 282). Dean Plumptre speaks of "the long and singularly interesting narrative peculiar to St. Luke." He says, "It must be looked upon as among the ' gleaning of the grapes,' which rewarded his researches even after the full vintage had apparently been gathered in by others" (
SS. Matthew and Mark). The "two of them," although doubtless well known in the apostolic age, seem to have held no distinguished place in early Christian history (see note on ver. 18, where Cleopas is mentioned).
The first day of the week - the first Easter Day. The events of the early morning of the Resurrection have been already commented upon.
To a village called Emmaus
. This Emmaus, the narrative tells us, was about sixty furlongs - some six miles and a half - from the holy city. It was situated east-south-east from Jerusalem. The name is connected with the modern Arabic term
(a bath), and indicates probably, like the Latin
, or the French
, and the English "Bath," or "Wells," the presence of medicinal springs; and this may possibly account for St. Luke the physician's attention having in the first instance been drawn to the spot. This Emmaus is now called
curious Talmudical reference, quoted by Godet, belongs to this place Emmaus, now Kulonieh: "At Mattza they go to gather the green boughs for the Feast of Tabernacles" (Talmud, 'Succa,' 4:5). Elsewhere it is said that "Maflza is Kulonieh."
And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And it came to pass, that, while they communed
and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
- While they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself
drew near, and went with them.
One, if not the first, fulfilment of the comforting promise, "Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them." Compare also the words of Malachi, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it" (
But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him.
So Mary Magdalene looked on and failed to recognize at first the Person of her adored Master (
). So by the lake-shore, as he stood and spoke to the tired fishermen, they who had been so long with him knew him not. Some mysterious change had been wrought in the Person of the Lord. Between the Resurrection and the Ascension, men and women now looked on him without a gleam of recognition, now gazed on him knowing well that it was the Lord. "It is vain," writes Dr. Westcott, "to give any simply natural explanation of the failure of the disciples to recognize Christ. After the Resurrection he was known as he pleased, and not necessarily at once Till they who gazed on him were placed in something of spiritual harmony with the Lord, they could not recognize him." The two on their walk to Emmaus, and Mary Magdalene in the garden, were preoccupied with their sorrow. The fisher-disciples on the lake were preoccupied with their work, so that the vision of the Divine was obscured. The risen Christ will surely fulfil his own words, "The pure in heart, they shall see God"
but only the pure in heart.
And he said unto them, What manner of communications
these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
The older authorities make the question stop at "as ye walk," and then add, "and they stood still, looking sad." This change is, of course, of no great importance, but it considerably adds to the vividness of the picture.
And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas
. This name is a Greek contraction of
, and points to Alexandrian antecedents. Dean Plumptre suggests that this may in part, perhaps, account for this Cleopas, not improbably a Jew of Alexandria, imparting to St. Luke what had not found its way into the current oral teaching of the Hebrew Church at Jerusalem, as embodied in the narratives of SS. Matthew and Mark.
Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem?
dost thou alone sojourn in Jerusalem
and not know
, etc.? That is to say, "Art thou the
stranger in Jerusalem who does not know about the wonderful events which have just taken place in the holy city?"
And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people
. To the Stranger's question, "What things have so lately excited Jerusalem?" they both probably burst out with "the Name," then doubtless on all lips in the holy city, "Jesus of Nazareth," the hated and adored Same. And then they went on with a farther explanation to One who seemed a stranger just arrived: they explained who this Jesus was supposed to have been. "He was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people," which Lunge happily paraphrases "equally great in secret contemplative holiness and in public acts of beneficence." But then the "two" explained, "
; for he is no more. Our chief priests and rulers have done him to death. They have crucified him."
And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
But we trusted that it had been he which should
have redeemed Israel.
And we who were his friends and followers, we thought we had found in him the Redeemer of Israel, King Messiah! Think! the
! Although the Redeemer, in the sense they-probably understood the word, was something very different to the sense we give to it, the idea was still something very lofty and sublime. It in-eluded, no doubt, much of earthly glory and dominion for Israel, but in some definite sense the Gentile world, too, would share in the blessings of Messiah. And to think of the shameful cross putting an end to all these hopes!
And beside all this, to-day is the third day since these things
But yet terrible and despairing as was the story of Cleopas and his friend, their tone was not quite hopeless; for they went on, "And now we have come to the third day since they crucified him." No doubt they dwelt a short space on the expression, "third day," telling the Stranger how their dead Master, when alive, had bade his friends watch for the third day from his death. The third day, he had told them, would be the day of his triumphant return to them; and, strangely enough, on the early morning of this third day, something
happen which had stirred, excited, and perplexed them. Certain women of their company, who had been early to the grave of the Master, meaning to embalm the corpse, found the sepulchre empty, and they came back reporting how they had seen a vision of angels there, who told them their Master lived. What did it all mean?
Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found
even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and
found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
Tholuck writes, "Does not their word sound as the language of those in whose heart the smoking flax yet glimmers, though nigh to extinction?"
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Then he said unto
them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
better translated, O
and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken
! The Stranger now replies to the confused story of sorrow and baffled hopes just lit up with one faint ray of hope, with a calm reference to that holy book so well known to, so deeply treasured by every Jew. "See," he seems to say, "in the pages of our prophets all this, over which you now so bitterly mourn, is plainly predicted: you must be blind and deaf not to have seen and heard this story of agony and patient suffering in those well-known, well-loved pages! When those great prophets spoke of the coming of Messiah, how came it about that you missed seeing that they pointed to days of suffering and death to be endured by him before his time of sovereignty and triumph could be entered on?"
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
ought not the Christ
, etc.? "St. Luke dwells on the Resurrection as a spiritual necessity; St. Mark, as a great fact; St. Matthew, as a glorious and majestic manifestation; and St. John, in its effects on the members of the Church... If this suffering and death were a necessity (
), if it was in accordance with the will of God
that the Christ should suffer
, and so
enter into his glory
, and if we can be enabled to see this necessity, and see also the noble issues which flow from it, then we can understand how the same necessity must in due measure be laid upon his brethren" (Westcott). And so we obtain a key to some of the darkest problems of humanity. Thus the Stranger led the "two" to see the true meaning of the "prophets," whose burning words they had so often read and heard without grasping their real deep signification. Thus he led them to see that the Christ must be a
before he could be a
Messiah; that the crucifixion of Jesus, over which they wailed with so bitter a wailing, was in fact an essential part of the counsels of God. Then he went on to show that, as his suffering is now fulfilled - for the Crucifixion and death were past - nothing remains of that which is written in the prophets, but the entering into his glory.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things
The three divisions, the Pentateuch (Moses), the prophets, and all the Scriptures, cover the whole Old Testament received then in the same words as we possess them now. The Lord's proofs of what he asserted he drew from the whole series of writings, rapidly glancing over the long many-coloured roll called the Old Testament. "Jesus had before him a grand field, from the Protevangelium, the first great Gospel of Genesis, down to Malachi. In studying the Scriptures for himself, he had found himself in them everywhere (
John 5:39, 40
The things concerning himself.
The Scriptures which the Lord probably referred to specially were the promise to Eve (
); the promise to Abraham (
); the Paschal lamb (
.); the scapegoat (
); the brazen serpent (
); the greater Prophet (
); the star and sceptre (
); the smitten rock (
1 Corinthians 10:4
), etc.; Immanuel (
); "Unto us a Child is born," etc. (
Isaiah 9:6, 7
); the good Shepherd (
Isaiah 40:10, 11
); the meek Sufferer (
); he who bore our griefs (
Isaiah 53:4, 5
); the Branch (
Jeremiah 33:14, 15
); the Heir of David (
); the Ruler from Bethlehem (
); the Branch (
); the lowly King (
); the pierced Victim (
); the smitten Shepherd (
); the messenger of the covenant (
); the Sun of Righteousness (
); and no doubt many other passages. Dr. Davison, in his book on prophecy, pp. 266-287, shows that there is not one of the prophets without some distinct reference to Christ, except Nahum, Jonah (who was himself a type and prophetic sign), and Habakkuk, who, however, uses the memorable words quoted in
. To these we must add references to several of the psalms, notably to the sixteenth and twenty-second, where sufferings and death are spoken of as Belonging to the perfect picture of the Servant of the Lord and the ideal King. His hearers would know well how strangely the agony of Calvary was foreshadowed in those vivid word-pictures he called before their memories in the course of that six-mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went:
and he made as though he would have gone
further. This was no feint or deception. The Lord would have left them then to themselves had they not prayed him with real earnestness to abide with them. "How many are there," says Stier, "to whom he has drawn near, but
whom he has not tarried, because they have suffered him to 'go away again,' in his living and heart-moving words! How comparatively rare is it for men to reach the full blessing they might receive (see, for example, the striking historical instance,
2 Kings 13:14, 19
)!" But these were not content to let the unknown Teacher pass on, and see no more of him, and hear no more of his strange powerful teaching. It is the words of, and the thought contained in, this verse which suggested the idea of the well-known hymn -
"Abide with me; fast falls the eventide."
But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
And he went in to tarry with them
. Some have supposed that one at least of the two had a dwelling at Emmaus; but the position which the strange Teacher assumed as "Master of the household," in the solemn act recorded in ver. 30, seems to indicate that it was an inn where they sojourned.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed
, and brake, and gave to them.
And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed
and brake, and gave to them
. There was a deep significance in the concluding act of this memorable appearance of the risen Lord. This taking the bread, and blessing it, and breaking it, and then giving it to them, was no ordinary act of courtesy, or welcome, or friendship, which, from a master or teacher might be shown to his disciples. It resembles too closely the great sacramental act in the upper room, when Jesus was alone with his apostles, for us to mistake its solemn sacramental character. The great teachers of the Church in different ages have generally so understood it. So Chrysostom in the Eastern, and Augustine in the Western Church; so Theophylact, and later Beza the Reformer all affirm that this meal was the sacrament. It taught men generally, even more plainly than did the first sacred institution teach the twelve, that in this solemn breaking of bread the Church would recognize their Master's presence. So generally, in fact, has this Emmaus "breaking of bread" been recognized by the Catholic Church as the sacrament, that later Romanist divines have even pressed it as a scriptural demonstration for the abuse which administered the elements under one form (compare, for instance, the 'Refutation of the Confession of Angsberg,' quoted by Stier, in his comment on this passage of Luke, 'Words of the Lord Jesus'). How unnecessary and forced such a construction is, Bishop Wordsworth points out in his note on Luke 24:30, "It may be remembered that
)was to the Jews a general name for
, including drink as well as meat Thus
became spiritually an expressive term for all the blessings received from communion in Christ's body and blood, and the
, or ' breaking of bread,' was suggestive of the source from which these blessings flow, (viz.) Christ's body (
) broken (
1 Corinthians 11:24
is a general term for the Holy Eucharist."
And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
He vanished out of their
, can we hope to understand the nature of the resurrection-body of the Lord; it is and must remain to us, in our present condition, a mystery. Certain facts have, however, been revealed to us:
The Resurrection was a reality, not an appearance; for on more than one occasion the Lord permitted the test of touch. He also ate before his disciples of their ordinary food.
Yet there was a manifest exemption flora the common conditions of bodily (corporeal) existence; for he comes through a closed door; he could
when he would from touch as well as from sight; he could vanish in a moment from those looking on him; he could, as men gazed on him, rise by the exertion of his own will into the clouds of heaven.
He was known just as he pleased and when he pleased; for at times during the "forty days" men and women looked on him without a gleam of recognition, at times they gazed at him, knowing well that it was the Lord. On the words, "he vanished out of their sight," Godet writes, "It must be remembered that Jesus, strictly speaking,
more with them
(ver. 44), and that the miracle consisted rather in his appearing than in his disappearing." Dr. Westcott expresses the same truth in different language, "What was natural to him before was now miraculous, what was before miraculous is now natural."
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way?
was not our heart burning within us
And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
Verses 33, 34.
And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem. "
They fear no longer the night-journey from which they had dissuaded their unknown Companion" (Bengel).
And found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon
. Late that evening Cleopas and his friend arrived from Emmaus at Jerusalem. Hastening to the accustomed meeting-place of the disciples of Jesus, to tell their wondrous story of the meeting with the risen Master, they find the eleven together full of joy. Peter
and had no doubt conversed with his Master. What a meeting must that have been! The once eager and devoted apostle had probably not gazed on that form in life since he caught the sorrowful look bent on him in the courtyard, when Jesus, bound, passed through and heard his servant denying him with oaths and curses. This appearance to Peter is not recorded in the Gospels. It is, however, placed first of all by St. Paul in his records of the manifestation of the Risen (
1 Corinthians 15:4-8
Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
And they told what things
in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread
. The two travellers now relate to the eleven their wondrous story. The words used by Cleopas and his friend in their narration,
ἐν τῇ κλάσει
, which should be rendered," in the breaking of the bread," are significant. It is an expression which, at the time when St. Luke wrote his Gospel, had acquired a definite meaning in the language of the Christian Church, and was applied to breaking bread in the "Supper of the Lord" (see
Acts 2:42, 46
1 Corinthians 10:16
). While they were speaking together, the personal appearance of the Lord was vouchsafed to them; for, of a sudden, he stood in the midst and spoke to them!
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace
Lord appears to the apostles as they were gathered together on the evening of the first Easter Day.
And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst
St. John, who also gives an account of this appearance of the Risen, adds the detail, "when the doors were shut." The eleven and their friends were gathered together for counsel, probably too in hope that something more would happen after what had already taken place that Easter Day - the report of the holy women of the repeated vision of angels, their own verification of the empty sepulchre, and above all the testimony of Peter that he had seen the Lord. Into this anxious, waiting assembly the two "Emmaus" disciples enter with their wondrous story. In the act of their mentally comparing notes,
Jesus himself stood in the midst of them.
This sudden presence there is evidently supernatural. He "stood in the midst of them," though the doors were carefully closed and barred "for fear of the Jews" Rumours of the Resurrection, no doubt, had already spread through the city, and it was uncertain whether such turnouts might not be followed by the arrest of the chief followers of the Crucified.
Peace be unto you
. This was the ordinary Jewish greeting, but on this occasion, spoken by the Lord, possessed more than the ordinary meaning. This "peace" was his solemn, comforting greeting to his own, just as "his peace" which he left with them on the sad Thursday eve was his solemn farewell to the eleven, spoken, perhaps, in the same "upper room "
before he went out to the garden of the agony.
But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
But they were terrified and affrighted
. They spoke one to another of the Master; they discussed the empty sepulchre, the angelic vision, the recital by Peter of his interview with the Risen, and were listening to the details of the quiet Emmaus meeting, all hoping for something more; but this sudden, mysterious appearance of their crucified Master in their midst was not, after all, what they had looked for.
It terrified them.
And supposed that they had seen a spirit
. How else could they explain his presence in their midst, when the doors were shut? The evangelists make no attempt to explain his sudden appearance.
He was simply there
as they spoke of him. It is clear that his presence could be accounted for in no ordinary, natural way. His disciples felt that; hence their supposition that they were looking on a spirit. We can, with our present limited knowledge, form no adequate conception of this resurrection-body of the Lord. It was a reality, no phantasm or appearance; of that the scene about to be described gives us ample evidence. Still, it is clear that his resurrection-body was not bound by the present conditions of material existence of which we are conscious. Epiphanius ascribes to the body of the risen Lord
, "a spiritual subtilty," Euthymius uses similar language when he speaks of "his body being now subtile, thin, and unmixed." He could
into a closed, barred room. He could be visible or invisible, known or unknown, as he pleased and when he pleased.
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled t and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
He had just given them. his peace. He proceeds further to allay their fears. Before showing them his pierced hands and feet and side, before eating in their presence, he addresses these comforting words to them: "See," he seems to say, "I give you my peace: why are ye troubled? why do you allow perplexing, harassing thoughts to arise in your hearts? The past is forgiven and forgotten." "I come not," as Stier beautifully sugests, "as a wrathful Judge to reckon with you for your unbelief and unfaithfulness. I bring to you (and all the world) from my sepulchre something very different from up-braidings."
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
"See," he says, inviting the terror-stricken disciples to a calm, unaffrighted contemplation - "see my hands and my feet pierced with the nails which fastened them to the cross;
it is I myself."
Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have
. The first words quietly told the awe-struck ones to look closely at him, and to ascertain from the dread marks he bore that what they looked upon was Jesus their Master. Then he proceeded to bid them touch him, handle him, and so assure themselves that it was no phantom, no bodiless spirit, that stood before them. These words of the Lord, and the invitation, "handle me, and see," made the deepest impression on the hearers. These, then, were proofs of the Resurrection that admitted of no shadow of doubt. These words, this sight, changed their lives. What cared they afterwards for men and men's threatenings? Death, life, to them were all one. They had
the Lord, they had handled with their hands "that which was flora the beginning" (see
1 John 1:1
). Browning forcibly puts this thought which so influenced the first great teachers. The dying St. John is dwelling on the thought that when he is gone there will be none left with men who saw and
"If I live yet, it is for good, more love
Through me to men: be nought but ashes here
That keep awhile my semblance, who was John.
Still, when they seater, there is left on earth
No one alive who knew (consider this!),
Saw with his eyes, and handled with his hands,
That which was from the first, the Word of life.
How will it be when none more saith, 'I saw'?"
A Death in the Desert.'
And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them
- Some (but not the majority) of the older authorities omit this verse.
when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet
. It has been suggested that the Risen simply pointed to those parts of his body which were not covered with clothing, and invited the disciples to touch these, and so to assure themselves that he had actually flesh and bone. Von Gerlach has an interesting suggestion that the feet were especially referred to "because there was in the feet something more convincing and touching than even in the hands, on account of the wonder that One who had been so grievously wounded could move." The real reason, however, of the Lord calling attention to
the hands and feet
comes out from St. John's account of this appearance of the Risen, for he adds that Jesus also showed them
Thus he pointed to the
of his blessed body to show that in the resurrection-body he retained these marks of his wounds. That he retained them now and for ever we ]mow from the glorious vision of the Revelation, where the wounded humanity of the Lord appears throned and adored in the highest heaven: "Lo,
the midst of the throne and of the four beasts [living creatures], and in the midst of the elders,
stood a Lamb as it had been slain"
). Our Master and God retains these as the glorious tokens of his victory and atonement. Augustine very strikingly deduces from this that perhaps we shall see the same with respect to the wounds of the martyrs ('De Civ. Dei,' lib. 22. cap. 19).
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?
Verses 41, 42.
they yet believed not for joy.
The awful joy of the disciples
was something too. deep for words, even for calm belief. St. John records it, too, with simple pathos. "Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord." This was the fulfilment of his promise to them, when, full of sadness, they were listening to him that last solemn Passover evening in the upper room. "Ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (
). In after-days, as John preached and taught in his old age, how the remembrance of
must have stirred in his heart when he thus wrote of it!
Have ye here any meat?
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb
. The Master would not permit this state of wondering ecstasy to continue; so he changes the current of their thoughts by thus descending into the region of everyday life, at the same time powerfully demonstrating by this further proof that, though changed, his resurrection, body was no mere Docetic semblance, no phantom, but that he could eat if he chose. The next sentence (ver. 43) tells simply how he took the food, and ate before them. The fish and honeycomb which they gave him no doubt formed the staple of their evening meal. Fish was part of the common food of the disciples - we see this from the miracles of the five thousand and the four thousand, and also from the narrative of
. Honey, we know, in Canaan, the laud flowing with milk and honey, was common enough to enter into the diet of the poor (compare, among many passages,
Exodus 3:8, 17
Deuteronomy 26:9, 15
Isaiah 7:15, 22
And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.
And he took
, and did eat before them.
And he said unto them, These
the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and
the prophets, and
the psalms, concerning me.
summary of some of the Lord's last words.
The next six verses do not record sayings uttered the same first Easter evening. They are, in fact, a very brief summary of instructions given by the Master on different occasions during the forty days which elapsed between the Resurrection and the Ascension. In considering the reasons of the omission of any special reference to the Galilaean appearances of the risen Lord, two points must be borne in mind.
Neither Luke nor Paul had any personal reminiscences, like Matthew, or Mark (who wrote down, we believe, St. Peter's memories), or St. John. Luke was dependent on other sources altogether.
Luke, when he wrote the Gospel bearing his name, probably proposed to complete his recital of the close of the earthly ministry of the Lord in his second work, the Acts of the Apostles. His knowledge of what took place after the Resurrection was evidently derived from a source unfamiliar with the Galilaean manifestations of the risen Lord. St. Luke's knowledge of the Ascension seems to have been most precise. He evidently lays great stress upon the importance of this last scene, both as a piece of evidence and as a theme of teaching; for he not only concludes his Gospel with it, but commences his book of the Acts with the same recital, accompanied with further details.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me
. The words, "while I was yet with you," plainly show that, in the Master's mind, the period of his sojourn with men was, in the human sense of the expression,
His abode now was elsewhere. This and the next verse (45) probably refer to what the Master said that first Easter evening to the assembled disciples, but the exact fixing the time in the forty days (the time specially mentioned by St. Luke in the Acts as elapsing between the Resurrection and the Ascension,
) is of comparatively small importance. What is, however, of real moment is the weight Jesus showed that he attached to Old Testament words and types and prophecies by this repeated mention. The remarks of Meyer and Van Oosterzee on this subject are well worthy of being quoted: "If the exegete should read the Old Testament Scriptures without knowing to whom and to what they everywhere point, the New Testament clearly directs his understanding, and places him under an obligation, if he would be a sound Christian teacher, to acknowledge its authority and interpret accordingly. Doubt as to the validity of our Lord and of his apostles' method of expounding, involves necessarily a renunciation of Christianity" (Meyer). "They who consult the teaching of Jesus and his apostles with respect to the prophecies concerning the Messiah, need not grope in uncertainty, but should, nevertheless, remember that the Lord probably directed the attention of the disciples, on this occasion (he is referring to the walk to Emmaus), less to isolated Scriptures than to the whole tenor of the Old Testament in its typical and symbolical character" (Van Oosterzee).
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.
Assuming (as is most probably the case) that vers. 44 and 45 refer to words spoken by Jesus on the first Easter evening to the eleven and to Cleopas and his friend, then
in which he opened their understanding is described by St. John (
) thus: "He breathed on
, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Among the new powers bestowed on them by this Divine gift, St. Luke especially dwells on the spiritual insight henceforth possessed by these men into the Scriptures of the Old Testament, hitherto only partly understood. This power was doubtless one of the great instruments of their success as preachers. In the next four verses (46-49) St. Luke evidently briefly summarizes the Master's great sayings, some probably spoken in the course of the walk to Emmaus, some on that first Easter evening, some on other occasions during the forty days which elapsed between the Resurrection and the Ascension. The introductory words, "and said unto them" (ver. 46), seem the commencement cf. this summary,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise. from the dead the third day.
The majority of the older authorities omit the words, "and thus it behoved." The verse should be read thus: "Thus it is written that Christ should suffer," etc. These words probably were spoken on that first Easter evening. They were apparently repeated on several occasions during the forty days. The Old Testament - they would see now with the new light cast upon it - showed the necessity of an
Redeemer, from the sin which it everywhere reveals, and of a
Redeemer, from the
which it proclaims as the consequence. While the same Scriptures no less authoritatively proclaim that through this suffering the Redeemer-Messiah should attain to his glorification.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his Name among all nations
. This is more definitely expressed in
, where the universality of his message, here summarized, is found in the form of a definite command.
Beginning at Jerusalem
. St. Luke enlarges the thought contained in these words in his Acts (
, contains the prophecy that from Zion should first proceed the proclamation.
And ye are witnesses of these things.
Ye are witnesses of these things
. This personal
of the first preachers of Christianity was the secret of their great power over men's hearts. What Dr. Westcott wrote of St. John was true of the rest of the eleven. "We
and do testify.
He (John) had no laboured process to go through; he saw. He had no constructive proof to develop; he bore witness. His source of knowledge was direct, and his mode of bringing conviction was to affirm."
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you
. Promised on the last Passover evening (
; see especially
John 15:26, 27
, etc.), and fulfilled partly on the first Easter evening, when he breathed on them (
), and completely on the first Pentecost (
But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high
. These words apparently were spoken on the day of his ascension (see
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
- THE ASCENSION. In considering the questions which suggest themselves in connection with the ascension of our blessed Lord, we are met on the threshold with the fact that only St. Luke, in his Gospel in this place, and in the Acts (1.), has given us a detailed account of the scene. But the fact is referred to
by St. John (
) and by St. Paul (
Ephesians 4:9, 10
1 Timothy 3:16
). A vast number of passages besides, in the Epistles of SS. Paul, Peter, and James, and in the Revelation of St. John, presuppose the Ascension, when they describe the heavenly glory of Jesus and of his session at the right hand of God. St. John's triple mention of the Ascension (see above) is exactly in accordance with his constant practice in his Gospel; he avoids rewriting a formal narrative of things which, when he wrote, were well known i, the Churches; yet he alludes to these things in clear and unmistakable language, and draws from them his lessons and conclusions. Notably this is the case in the Fourth Gospel with regard to the sacraments. "It contains," says Dr. Westcott, "no formal narrative of the institution of sacraments, and yet it presents most fully the idea of sacraments." Neander writes with great force on this apparent omission of the Ascension: "We make the same remark upon the ascension of Christ as was before made upon his miraculous conception. In regard to neither is prominence given to the special and actual
in the apostolic writings; in regard to both, such a fact is presupposed in the general conviction of the apostles, and in the connection of Christian consciousness. Thus the end of Christ's appearance on earth corresponds with its beginning. Christianity rests upon supernatural facts - stands or falls with them. By faith in them has the Divine life been generated from the beginning. Were this faith gone, there might indeed remain many of the
of what Christianity has been; but as for Christianity in the true sense, as for a Christian Church, there could be none."
And he led them out as far
as to Bethany;
and he led them out until they were over against Bethany.
The scene of the Ascension could scarcely have been the central summit of the Mount of Olives (
), according to ancient tradition; but it is more likely that it took place on one of the remoter uplands which lie above the village. "On the wild uplands which immediately overhang the village, he finally withdrew from the eyes of his disciples, in a seclusion which, perhaps, could nowhere else be found so near the stir of a mighty city; the long ridge of Olivet screening those hills, and those hills the village beneath them, from all sound or sight of the city behind; the view opening only on the wide waste of desert-rocks and ever-descending valleys, into the depths of the distant Jordan and its mysterious lake" (Dean Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' ch. 3.).
He lifted up his hands, and blessed them
we read how Jesus, having assembled (
) the apostles, gave them some last commands before he left them. It is not expressly stated that only the eleven were present on this occasion.' When he had finished speaking, "he lifted up his hands, and blessed them." There is
no laying on of hands. "Jam non imposuit manus," comments Bengel. Those hands, as they were lifted up, were already separated from them, the space between the Risen and those he was blessing grew greater every moment.
And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven;
more accurately rendered,
while he blessed them
he parted from them
and was carried up into heaven.
The last clause, "was carried up into heaven," is absent from some, but not from the majority of the older authorities. The Acts (
) describe the act of ascension thus: "As they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." The eleven and those chosen to witness the last earthly scene of the Lord's ministry came together, in obedience probably to some command of their Master, to some meeting-place in Jerusalem, possibly the well-known upper room. Thence he led them forth from the sacred city, past the scene of the agony and the scene of the weeping, on to some quiet spot hard by loved Bethany, talking to them as they went; and as he spoke, suddenly he lifted up his pierced hands and blessed them; and in the very act of performing this deed of love, he rose, they still gazing on him - rose, as it appears, by the exercise of his own will into the air, and, while they still gazed, a cloud came and veiled him from their sight.
He was parted from them
and carried up into heaven.
Among the appearances of the Risen to his followers during the forty days (ten of these distinct appearances are related in the Gospels and Epistles), this last notably differs from all that preceded it. As at other times when he showed himself to his friends during these forty days, so on the "Ascension" day Jesus apparently came forth suddenly from the invisible world; but not, as on former occasions, did he suddenly vanish from sight, as if he might shortly return as he had done before. But on this fortieth day he withdrew in a different way; as they gazed he rose up into the air, and so he parted from them, thus solemnly suggesting to them that not only was he "no more with them" (ver. 44), but that even those occasional and supernatural appearances vouchsafed to them since the Resurrection were now at an end. Nor were they grieved at this final parting; for we read -
And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
This "great joy," on first thoughts, is singular till we read between the lines, and see how perfectly they now grasped the new mode of the Lord's connection with his own. They
that henceforth, not for a little time as before the cross, not fitfully as since the Resurrection, but that for ever, though their eyes might not see him, would they feel his blessed presence near (see
). One question more connected with the Ascension presses for an answer. Much modern criticism regards this last scene simply as one of the ordinary disappearances of the forty days, and declines to admit any external, visible fact in which the Ascension was manifested. But St. Luke's description. both in his Gospel and in the Acts, is plainly too circumstantial to admit of any hypothesis which limits the Ascension to a purely spiritual elevation. At the end of his earthly ministry, the evening before the cress, Jesus asked back his glory: "Now, O Father, glorify thou
with thine own sell, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (
). The Ascension and consequent session at the right hand was the answer to the prayer of Christ. It was necessary for the training of the first teachers of Christianity that the great fact should be represented in some outward and visible form. "The physical elevation," writes Dr. Westcott, "was a speaking parable, an eloquent symbol, but not the truth to which it pointed, or the reality which it foreshadowed, The change which Christ revealed by the Ascension was not a change of place, but a change of state; not local, but spiritual. Still, from the necessities of our human condition, the spiritual change was represented sacramentally, so to speak, in an outward form He passed beyond the sphere of man's sensible existence to the open presence of God" ('Tim Revelation of the Risen Lord').
The session at the right hand of God
) cannot designate any particular place. The ascension, then, of Jesus is not the exchange of one locality,
, merely for another we term
It is a change of state; it is a passing from all confinement within the limits of space to
And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing
These last words of the Gospel just alluded to the life of the first teachers, which is dwelt upon with considerable detail in the Acts. In the early days which succeeded the Ascension, the temple and its courts were the principal resort of the teachers of the new "way." We know that in an extraordinarily short time the numbers of adherents to the crucified and risen Jesus, in Jerusalem only, were counted by thousands. The temple and its vast courts, from its storied past, from its having been the scene of much of the Master's last teaching, was the natural centre for these leaders of the new "way." When Luke wrote the words, "were continually in the temple," it is almost certain that he proposed continuing his great narrative in the book we know as the Acts of the Apostles, in which, guided by the Divine Spirit, he relates to us how the Lord Jesus continued to work on earth - in and by his Church - from his glory-throne in heaven. The early chapters of the Acts take up the thread of the gospel story, and describe the life and work of the friends of Jesus in the great Jerusalem temple, the dangers they had to encounter, and the splendid success which rewarded their brave, faithful toil. These same Acts, in the first lines of their thrilling story, take up again the Ascension scene, which is described with fresh and vivid details From these details we learn how, when the disciples' eyes were fixed on that cloud which veiled their ascending Master, they became aware of two stranger-forms with them, clad in white and glistening garments. They knew these belonged to no earthly company. They were two among the thousands of thousands of angels, possibly the angels of the Resurrection, who sat in the empty garden-tomb. These angels tell the awe-struck friends of the ascended Jesus that their adored Master will one day (
) come back to
in like manner as they had seen him go to heaven. "O earth, thou grain of sand on the shore of the great ocean of the universe of God, thou Bethlehem among the princes of the regions of heaven, thou art and thou ever wilt be, among ten thousand times ten thousand suns and worlds, the loved one, the elect of the Lord; thee will he visit again; thou shalt provide him a throne, even as thou gavest him a manger; thou shalt rejoice in the splendour of his glory, even as thou drankest his blood and his tears, and mournedst at his death. On thee he hath a great work yet to accomplish" (Hafeli, quoted by Stier).
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